MONTGOMERY, Alabama — With more than 95 percent of the world’s population and 80 percent of the world’s purchasing power outside the United States, future economic growth and jobs for Alabama and America increasingly depend on expanding trade and investment opportunities in the global marketplace.
The Alabama Department of Commerce and the Export Alabama Alliance have announced a 2014 trade mission agenda to leverage current Free Trade Agreements and possible future agreements positioning Alabama for job growth. Alabama plans to lead business delegations to South America, Southeast Asia and Europe in 2014.
“These state-wide trade missions are extremely focused on connecting Alabama businesses and organizations with opportunities to work directly with companies in these selected markets,” Secretary of Commerce Greg Canfield said. “We’ve experienced success in helping our companies grow from these missions and know that it benefits our state’s economy.”
During March 13-26, the Export Alabama Alliance will lead a group of businesses to the Southeast Asia countries of Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore. The U.S. is currently negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership to achieve a comprehensive, high-standard and commercially meaningful trade and investment agreement among 12 Asia-Pacific nations. Two billion Asians joined the middle class in the last 20 years and another 1.2 billion are expected to do so by 2020. The Asia-Pacific markets are ripe with opportunity and Alabama plans to position itself for this growth.
Last November, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley and Secretary Canfield led an economic development mission to Japan, where a state delegation met with executives of Toyota, Honda and other major companies. Japanese firms have invested more than $4.4 billion in Alabama in the past 15 years.
Figures show that two-way trade between Alabama and Singapore totaled $222 million in 2012, slightly ahead of the $218 million with Thailand that year. Two-way trade with Indonesia was $51 million in 2012.
In June 2014, the Export Alabama Alliance heads to South America. Alabama will travel to Peru and Uruguay to take advantage of market opportunities. Alabama’s exports to Peru have experienced very strong growth, increasing by 235 percent since the U.S.‐Peru Free Trade Agreement took effect in 2009.
Argentina and Brazil are large markets for Alabama products and services but given the experience of restrictions and non-tariff barriers, Alabama looks to Uruguay as a market to help Alabama companies’ transition to the exponential growth opportunities in Brazil and Argentina.
Alabama exports to Uruguay topped $11 million in 2012.
Europe remains by far America’s largest trading partner, and the EU accounts for nearly half of global economic output, topping $6.5 trillion annually and employing 15 million Americans and Europeans. The US is currently negotiating the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, which is being called the biggest trade deal in the world. The Alabama Export Alliance is planning a trip to Belgium and the Netherlands in fall 2014 to expand on current export success and position the state for continued trade growth.
Both countries are substantial trade partners with Alabama. In 2012, exports of Alabama-made products to Belgium topped $254 million, while shipments to the Netherlands exceeded $242 million. Two-way trade between Alabama and those countries approached $700 million that year.
The Export Alabama Alliance is a seamless network of international trade agencies with the fundamental objective to help Alabama companies expand their business internationally. Members include the Department of Commerce, the Alabama State Port Authority, Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce, the Birmingham Business Alliance, the Port of Huntsville and the North Alabama International Trade Association.
Companies interested in participating in any or part of these business missions should contact Hilda Lockhart, director of international trade for the Alabama Department of Commerce at 334-242-0442 or firstname.lastname@example.org